Microsoft almost sells 1M Zunes. Big whoop.

Microsoft’s Zune player was released on 11/14 last year, and a dud pretty much right out of the box. Sales dropped so quickly after the first week that three weeks later Microsoft had to put on a brave face and say that sales were meeting expectations (really? they expected it to sell so badly?) and would reach one million by the end of June, 2007:

“”We’re forecasting just over 1 million units for the fiscal year [ending June, 2007],” said Jason Reindorp, marketing director for Zune at Microsoft. “We feel pretty good about that number.””

I can see why they’d feel “pretty good” about that number. At a time when Apple was selling 8 million iPods per quarter, Microsoft set a goal of selling only 1 million Zunes in 7.5 months. Not very aggressive, was it? But then, they’re a software company, not a hardware one. I mean, if they applied the same weak expectations to their software, it’d take something like five years for them to get a new operating system released, and we all know that would never happen.

Anyway, guess what? The San Francisco Chronicle has an interview with Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division. In it, he is quoted as saying they have sold over 1 million:

“We’re still about nine months into having Zune in the marketplace. We’re very pleased with the progress. We’ve sold a little over a million Zunes. In the category we’re in, the hard-disk-based category, we’ve got about 10 percent market share. It’s a good start. It’s not an overwhelming start. I’m not going to pretend it’s some gigantic move.”

As unimpressive as this is, it turns out that it’s even less impressive than it first appears. According to Philip Elmer-DeWitt at Apple 2.0, the Chronicle mis-quoted Bach. He didn’t say they had already sold one million, but rather that that they will have by the end of June:

“Second, Bach didn’t actually say that Microsoft had already sold a million Zunes. If you listen to the interview, which the Chronicle helpfully provides in a podcast, what Bach said wasBach: When we finish our fiscal year in June we’ll have sold a little over a million Zunes, so we feel very good about that. [emphasis added]”

In other words, Microsoft is tracking towards the goal (big deal), but they aren’t there yet.

What’s funny is that Bach clearly realizes all this is nothing to be proud of. Heck, he almost sounds like he’s apologizing for it. The Zune has not done well in the market place so far, and he knows it. Will it do better in the future? We’ll have to see what version 2.0 brings.